Latest Yaris shows remarkable refinement
AS Toyota’s new Yaris III arrives in showrooms, the market is very different to the one that the first model entered in 1999.
That first car was known here as the Echo and at the time it had very little competition. There was no Nissan in the B-segment to compete with it, Honda only had the old Logo in that slot, while Ford offered the dull Koreanmade Festiva and Mazda’s square-rigged Demio was a bit of an also-ran too. Holden did have the Barina but that too was very much a second- class citizen compared with the wildly-styled Echo, with its centre- clocked dash, soft-wedge profile and clever fore and aft sliding rear seat. They sold like hot cakes.
The new model has a decidedly angular and razor-edged look, with a distinctly wedge-like profile and a new squared-off under grille, which will be part of Toyota’s new design signature for the future.
The car’s makers make much of the new Yaris’ extra space, a product of its 100mm longer body, which sits on a wheelbase that’s also 50mm longer than the previous car’s. Most of that wheelbase gain goes to rear knee room.
By using a slimmer front seat back design, albeit with a curved and eminently supportive shape, the Yaris adds to that extra leg room and I found that despite the 20mm lower roof height on the new design, it affords a huge amount of head space.
All Yaris models for New Zealand run on 15-inch rims in alloy or steel. While some aftermarket 16 and 17 inch wheels are available, I was so impressed with the standard car’s balance of ride and handling, that I wouldn’t want to risk spoiling things just for the sake of looks.
There’s no doubt that the new Yaris III’S improved refinement levels make it feel like a much bigger car than before but that might have led me to expect more from it in terms of urge. Suffice to say it feels brisk enough in most conditions but its four-speed automatic needs to be over-ridden if you have an overtaking opportunity.
The YR five-door offers both manual $23,790 and automatic $25,290 versions, while the range-topping YRS is an automatic-only five-door asking $27,490 but adding cruise control, multiinformation display, improved audio features, alloy wheels and front fog lights.
I liked the new car, especially in terms of its extra space, improved interior quality and remarkable refinement levels. Dave Moore
DRIVE: The new Toyota Yaris lll.